Dec 23, 2018 2 Thessalonians Overview*

AUTHOR, DATE, AND RECIPIENTS

Shortly after writing 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul received a report (2 Thess. 3:11) that the Thessalonian church had accepted the strange claim that “the day of the Lord has come” (2:1–2). Paul sent them this second letter in A.D. 49–51. He was probably in Corinth at the time.

PURPOSE

Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians (1) to reassure those terrified by the thought that the day of the Lord had come (2:1-3:5), (2) to strengthen the Thessalonians in the face of unremitting persecution (1:3-12), and (3) to deal with the problem of some of the church members refusing to earn their own living (3:6-15). Lazy Christians may simply have been exploiting wealthier Christian’s generosity in order to avoid work.

THEME

The theme of the second coming of Jesus dominates 2 Thessalonians just as it dominated 1 Thessalonians. Jesus’ coming will be preceded by an “apostasy” (or rebellion) and by the revelation of the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3). When Jesus comes, he will defeat this rebellious world ruler (2 Thess. 2:8) and bring justice to oppressed Christians, and wrath to their persecutors and to unbelievers in general (2 Thess. 1:5–102:9–15).

LITERARY FEATURES

In contrast to the warm and effusive tone of 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians includes some blunt commands as Paul addresses bad behavior and bad thinking. Further this letter is noteworthy for the author’s tough-mindedness in predicting judgment on the ungodly and rebuking the church members who behave and think incorrectly. Still, there is a regular swing back and forth between reproof and warm encouragement.

THE GOSPEL IN 2 THESSALONIANS

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians is a letter of comfort to those eagerly awaiting the promised return of Jesus Christ. Since receiving Paul’s first letter, the Thessalonians’ faith in Christ and their love for one another had continued to grow abundantly while they endured affliction for the sake of the gospel. Paul writes to encourage them to remain steadfast in their commitment to the gospel and the doctrine they had learned from the apostles. False prophets had been spreading rumors suggesting that the “day of the Lord” (2:2; cf. 1:10) had already come, and Paul writes to set the record straight by providing further details about the events surrounding the second coming of Christ.

Paul also deals with misbehavior that has been a consequence of the Thessalonians’ misunderstanding. While awaiting the coming day of the Lord, some of the believers at Thessalonica had become unwilling to work. Paul urges the believers to continue to work and not to grow weary in doing good while waiting in hope for God’s impending vengeance against the wicked and his salvation of his chosen people. Just as God called us through the gospel, so he is faithful to his promise to guard us and establish us in every good work until Jesus returns.

OUTLINE

  1. Opening (1:1–2)
  2. Thanksgiving and Comfort for the Persecuted Thessalonians (1:3–12)
  • Disproving the False Claim about the Day of the Lord (2:1–17)
  1. Transition (3:1–5)
  2. The Problem of Lazy Christians (3:6–15)
  3. Conclusion (3:16–18)

* Taken from ESV Study Bible and ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

 

 

This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:

Monday: 2 Thes 3 Thursday: James 3
Tuesday: James 1 Friday: James 4
Wednesday: James 2 Saturday: James 5